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Toward the Next Great Divorce

By: Stephen Phelan
Good luck catching Katie Couric talking about the “staunch Baptist” who finally came around to supporting sex education for third-graders. Only slightly more common are mainstream media types who talk about how this or that political leader, “a devout Jew,” finally saw the light and came around to the Left’s position on some social policy issue.

Yet there are flocks of sincere-looking talking heads willing to assure us that the congressman who just passionately endorsed “gay marriage” is a “staunch” or “devout” Catholic.

Why is this? Why is it that only Catholics’ supposed sincerity about their faith is worthy of comment when the media reports said Catholic’s position on some issue?

There are probably several reasons for this odd phenomenon, but one in particular calls for special attention in today’s social and political climate: The marauding secularists of the media and the rest of the Left actually crave the moral authority of the very institution they are trying to destroy.

This is why President Obama and others of the secular Left, with the help of far too many fake Catholics, now openly strive to divide the Church in America. Besides democracy itself, the one institution that stands between them and far left utopia is the Catholic Church. This is why the Church must be turned against itself, confused, and brought to heel. Sadly, they are doing so with great efficiency and success as of late.

Case in point: No serious person, Right or Left, believes Nancy Pelosi when she claims devotion to her faith as her reasoning for supporting liberal policies and legislation. But everyone knows why she says it.

One of the many ironies here is that the very Magisterium that Pelosi and other fake Catholics find so inconvenient to their worldview is positively tepid in cracking down on heretics compared to the Magisterium of the Left. When Joe Lieberman, a staunch progressive from Connecticut, dared to oppose his party on the Iraq War, he was mercilessly attacked from the Left, and even had to leave the party to run for reelection. He was essentially excommunicated.

And consider how consistent pro-life Democrats are treated by the Left, from Pennsylvania’s devoutly liberal but pro-life Bob Casey being denied even the ability to address the Democratic convention in 1992 to the few recent pro-life holdouts on Obamacare. Bart Stupak flirted with excommunication from the Left for opposing health care reform, but ultimately sided with his party against the Church. And yet, he remains a Catholic in good standing.

Faithful Catholics could only wish that their doctrine were so rigorously, if not so viciously, enforced. We know that Catholic teaching by its very nature seeks to persuade, not to impose. Taken to heart and mind, it becomes an organic expression of the Faith, a welcome guide rather than a set of laws forced upon reluctant believers. But at least we admit that we have a Magisterium, just as we admit our consternation when public figures consistently flout Church teaching and suffer no serious consequences from that same authority/Magisterium for doing so.

The secular Left, however, admits no such thing. True believers of the Left utterly lack this self-awareness. Not only would they deny that they have a Magisterium, or even a body of teachings from which the faithful may not dissent, they even deny that absolute obeisance is required to be a member of the faith, er… party.

Yet there stands the Catholic Church, in meek and peaceful opposition to the secular Leftist/fake Catholic zeitgeist. That antiquated, hegemonic, paternalistic… Church(!) dares to continue to reach out to and reason with those who only seek its acquiescence or destruction.

As the mainstream media declares yet again, and in ever more strident and frustrated tones, the irrelevance of the Catholic Church, they accidentally affirm its true relevance. The Church’s teaching authority, both loathed and envied by the Left, is essential to its unity, and is the natural legacy of the Church founded by Christ upon the Rock that was Peter.

To be sure, this does not mean that the Church is somehow more at home on the political Right. Any agreement between the Church and the modern American Right is accidental, as is any apparent agreement with the Left. The Church rightly dictates no political program, even if it is often dishonestly portrayed as doing so. Further, not every position of the Left is anti-Catholic. Cap-and-Trade, for example, is terrible economics justified by specious “science,” but it isn’t necessarily anti-Catholic. The difference, however, between the Church’s relationship with Left and Right is that there is not currently any major organized force on the Right trying to divide and conquer the Church, as there is on the Left. History tells us this could change at any moment.

Still, one might ask why the Catholic Church is singled out for such aggressive attention. Why not Christianity as a whole, or even certain Protestant denominations? After all, aren’t conservative evangelicals also a thorn in the side of those who want “gay marriage,” valueless sex education, and other radical policies to be realized?

The faithful Catholics I know are proud to fight next to their Protestant brethren in the culture wars, and enjoy the occasions of unity and dialogue that these battles afford. We tend to have much greater respect for those who love and live their faith consistently, even if we disagree about important things, than we have for those who only claim their faith when it is politically expedient.

But why should Obama and company seek to divide denominations that were themselves born of division? If a church is conceived in protest, then it will, as we have seen throughout the centuries, continue to divide itself. That battle has already been won by the one who wants to see Christ’s children divided and fighting among themselves. If you want unity, you have to return to the source; and if you want to cause division, you attack the source.

This is why Obama enlists the help of fake Catholics, and of universities who seek communion with secular powers more than they do with the Church that created them. He does so precisely because of their claim to the Catholic Faith.

This is also why the current ambiguity of Catholic identity in the public square is, to use an overused term, unsustainable. Obama’s Notre Dame speech, Pelosi’s multiple idiotic affronts to Catholic teaching, the health care debacle—these and other troubling events indicate that the moment when Catholics will actually have to make a choice about where they stand is rapidly approaching.

Many more Catholics each day realize that the next Great Divorce in the Church is inevitable—the divorce between those who think their faith is essentially a “go-along-to-get-along” proposition, and those who know that, even after a period of affluence and apparent harmony, the Faith never had anything to do with merely getting along.  As Deal Hudson and other Catholic writers are increasingly arguing, the state is poised to force this decision upon the massive Catholic middle who haven’t yet chosen a side.

Students of Catholic history know that great expansions of the Church always follow its great oppressions, as it is purified by fire—sometimes literally. This is a time of both great instability and great hope. It’s a great time to be Catholic.

Sr. Keehan as President Obama's Propaganda Czar

By: Anne Hendershott

Continuing her quest to marginalize the Catholic bishops, Sr. Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association used her association’s annual meeting in Denver this week to once again misrepresent Catholic social teaching–and diminish the teaching authority of the Church.

Employing yet another video—persuasive films about people in pain and in need of health care reform have been the primary mainstay of the Catholic Health Association for the past year—Sr. Keehan now claims that President Obama’s health care reform “draws on Catholic social teaching,” and “was an ethical necessity, a building block for the common good of the nation and the strength of its communities.”

This time, Sr. Keehan’s video gave a starring role to yet another Catholic Democrat senator with a dismal voting record on pro-life issues. Senator Robert Casey states in the propaganda piece that if the Catholic Health Association had not been involved, then it is unlikely that the bill would have passed.

Contradicting the bishops, Senator Casey states in the video that the health care reform legislation was “pro-life legislation.” Of course, this is the same Catholic Democrat senator who had no problem voting in favor of funding abortions overseas when he voted last year to allow President Obama to lift the Mexico City Policy, a Reagan-era policy that prohibited taxpayer funds from going to organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas.

The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so deeply and emotionally that it no longer matters whether the idea is true. Calling the Obama health care reform “pro-life” is a lie. But, it is possible that the lie has been repeated so often and portrayed on film so compellingly that even the filmmakers are beginning to believe it.

Of course, the big star of the video is once again President Obama as the crowd of more than 800 participants at the CHA annual meeting applauded when President Obama appeared on the CHA video and thanked everybody at the association for their “help and courage in passing health care reform.” And, once again, in the video, the President singled out Sr. Keehan for the “extraordinary leadership she has shown in advancing our national discussion.” Sr. Keehan is obviously very special to President Obama—and he has shown how grateful he was in awarding her one of 20 silver-tipped signing pens after the signing ceremony.

In his video message, President Obama referred to Sr. Keehan’s biggest piece of propaganda—the one she made as part of the campaign of promoting health care reform entitled “I Can’t Wait for Health Care Reform.” This is the film where she depicts priests, nuns, and health care workers from Catholic hospitals holding up signs claiming that they too “Can’t Wait” for health care reform—implying that the Catholic Church can’t wait for health care reform either. In his video message, President Obama reassured all of those gathered in Denver that those in the CHA video “won’t be waiting much longer.”

Noticeably absent from this latest CHA video were the Catholic bishops who have recently called the Catholic Health Association’s action in endorsing the health care plan a “wound to Catholic unity.” Faithful Catholics are hoping that the bishops’ new ad hoc Health Care Concerns Committee will begin to heal this “wound.”

The first thing the bishops can do is to refuse to allow the Church and her teachings to be distorted and used as part of a propaganda campaign. Propaganda is not an end in itself but a means to an end, and the bishops must recognize this. The Catholic Health Association has been effective in using propaganda to gain the moral high ground on health care—they “look” like caring people at the same time they are promoting a culture of death. Archbishop Chaput has been courageous in saying that out loud. It is time for the other bishops to begin to do the same. Maybe they need a video.

How Taxes Work

By: Chuck Piola

A friend shared with me the following tax analogy. It is so humorously true that I want to pass it along. Although this story has been circulated on the Internet, there are plenty of people who will read it for the first time here. It comes from an unknown source via Thomas Davies, Professor of Accounting and Chair of the Division of Accounting and Business Law at The University of South Dakota School of Business. According to Snopes.com, the story was given to Professor Davies who then distributed it to his graduate students without commentary in an effort to get them to think outside the box. Davies noted, “It is rather easy to focus on the myriad of complex rules and forget that tax policy frequently influences taxpayer behavior beyond what may have been intended.”

Let’s put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men — the poorest — would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man — the richest — would pay $59.

That’s what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement — until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language, a tax cut).
“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.” So now dinner for the ten only costs $80.00.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So, the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But, what about the other six — the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his “fair share?” 

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. 

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.

But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man who pointed to the tenth. “But he got $7!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man, “I only saved a dollar, too . . . It’s unfair that he got seven times more than me!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man, “Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn’t show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But, when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered a little late, what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! Imagine that!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. 

Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straightforward logic!
How true! Sad, but true.

Remind your elected leaders that free enterprise, not the government, pays the bills in this country.

Chuck Piola is a nationally recognized speaker, sales consultant, and sales trainer. Visit www.ChuckPiola.com to learn more, to submit a question, or to suggest a topic. To schedule Chuck as a keynote speaker or to learn about cooperative marketing opportunities with the Piola Forum contact Lorraine@LorraineRanalli.com.

Catholics United Continues War on the Bishops

6-10-10 Posted by admin in Blog, Featured Articles, Gallery, Recent Articles 3 Comments

By: Anne Hendershott

While Chris Korzen, Director of Catholics United, claims that his organization is simply a non-partisan Catholic social justice organization interested in “following Church teachings to the letter” his statements and activities during the past month contradict his assertions.  At the same time Korzen claims that “Americans now more than ever are desperate to move beyond divisive and acrimonious political debate,” he takes every opportunity to engage in some of the most partisan and vitriolic speech to allege that “the (Catholic) bishops have become accomplices to the Republican Party and its allies.”

Claiming that  “right wing Catholic groups” have influenced the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ decision to leave the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Korzen accuses the bishops of “kowtowing to conservatives who are opposed to President Obama and the progressive agenda” surrounding the health care reform debates and the Supreme Court nomination.

Most recently, Korzen has mobilized Catholics United workers to deliver more than 5,000 petition signatures to Boston Archdiocesan leader, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, to protest the “discrimination in his Catholic schools on the basis of the lifestyles of students’ parents.”  The protest against the Archdiocese came two weeks after St. Paul Elementary School in Hingham, Massachusetts denied admission to an 8 year old boy because his parents are in a same-sex relationship.

In a statement on the Catholics United website, Korzen has posted that “we fear that discrimination against children of same sex couples creates the appearance that it is more important to score political points than allow equal access to a Catholic education.”

Korzen has promised to circulate his petition until the archdiocese adopts a clear non-discrimination policy for its Catholic schools.

Claiming that Catholic leaders only want to “score political points” rather than uphold Catholic teachings on the sanctity of marriage reveals much more about Korzen and his politically motivated organization than it does about the bishops.   No one should take him seriously.  But, Korzen continues to enjoy strong support from left-wing sources.  In 2007, he was paid $84,821 from the George Soros-supported Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.  As a former organizer for SEIU and now head of the 501c(4) Catholics United, Korzen will continue to lobby against the bishops whenever they make a decision that contradicts the progressive ideology he is paid to promote.

The Price to Pay for Health Care Reform

By: Anne Hendershott

As the Obama administration continues to clamp down on executive salaries at financial firms receiving government aid, the real money for executive salaries remains in the non-profit health care world.  A 2008 Wall Street Journal study of tax exempt hospitals revealed that the average total compensation paid to top officials was $1.4 million.  Some health care executives—especially those at Catholic health associations—make much more.  But, we are seeing now that there is a price to pay.

Lloyd H. Dean, President/CEO of Catholic Healthcare West, a hospital system based in San Francisco, made more than 5.3 million in 2006—including the forgiveness of a $782,541 housing loan from his employer. Recognizing that hospitals stand to make even greater profits as more individuals are required to have medical insurance, Mr. Dean teamed with the Catholic Health Association’s Sr. Carol Keehan to lobby for Mr. Obama’s healthcare reform.  In fact, Dean brought the resources of one of America’s largest hospital systems to help to shape the national health care reform debate.  Their public campaign included a video highlighting the organization’s own town hall meetings, an advertising campaign which ran in major US media publications, as well as a Congressional outreach.

And, while the University of San Francisco thought so highly of Lloyd Dean’s efforts to pass health care reform that they honored him at last month’s Commencement, they might have looked more closely at how Dean’s Catholic hospital system is now handling the Church’s ethical and religious directives.

Drawing from an article in the Ventura County StarCalifornia Catholic Daily reported that Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted declared that a nun at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center—a Lloyd Dean led Catholic Healthcare West hospital—had automatically excommunicated herself for approving an abortion in order to treat a mother’s underlying medical condition.  The Star also reported that the excommunicated nun’s counterparts in Lloyd Dean run hospitals in Ventura County would make the same choice if confronted with a similar case.

On the website of the Phoenix Diocese, Bishop Olmsted writes, “I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese.  I am further concerned by the hospital’s statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition…While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child.  The end does not justify the means.”

Faithful Catholics know that the unborn child’s life is just as sacred as the mother’s life and neither can be preferred over the other.  They also know that Catholic institutions are obliged to defend human life at all stages from conception to natural death. Perhaps someone should tell Lloyd Dean (and the University of San Francisco) exactly that.

The Parade of Democrat Politicians on Catholic Campuses Continues

By: Anne Hendershott

As the 2010 commencement season concludes, a review of the graduation speakers and honorees reveals, yet again, that Catholic colleges continue to honor pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage politicians on their campuses.

Drawing from research compiled from the Cardinal Newman Society, California Catholic Daily reports that several Catholic colleges—many of them in California—have  invited commencement speakers or awarded honorary degrees to those whose public positions and actions are clearly at odds with fundamental Catholic teachings.   Despite the USCCB’s 2004 statement, “Catholics in Political Life,” which maintains that Catholic colleges “must not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the reality remains that these Catholic campuses continue to defy the bishops’ instructions.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, a career Democratic politician who during 20 years as a Democratic state legislator compiled a nearly perfect pro-abortion, pro-Planned Parenthood voting record addressed the graduates at St. Mary’s College in Moraga.  California Catholic Daily points out that “O’Connell was a high profile opponent of Proposition 8, the initiative constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2008 that defined marriage in California as between one man and one woman.

As Superintendent of Public Instruction, O’Connell was featured in TV ads urging voters to reject Proposition 8, claiming that public schools would not teach or influence students to favor same-sex marriage.  O’Connell worked in direct opposition to the current Bishop of Oakland, Salvatore Cordileone, St. Mary’s presiding bishop and one of the main promoters of the pro-Proposition 8 campaign.  As a reward for his defiance of their bishop, O’Connell was given the honor of addressing the graduates of the Catholic college.

The pro-abortion Democratic Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, was the commencement speaker at Loyola Marymount University.  Prior to serving as governor, Patrick served as assistant attorney general for civil rights during the Clinton administration where he claims to have “led the fight to keep discrimination out of the Massachusetts constitution and preserve the right of same sex couples to marry.”

Loyola Marymount also invited Marlene Canter, a former Democratic member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board, to address the Graduate commencement.  In Los Angeles, Canter has called the legalization of same sex marriage “an issue of simple fairness and basic human rights.”  The Cardinal Newman Society also reports that Canter has opposed a parental notification abortion law.

The University of San Francisco gave an honorary degree to Lloyd Dean, president of Catholic Healthcare West, and a strong proponent of Obama’s health care reform – replete with abortion funding.  While Dean is not a politician, he has been a generous donor to the Democratic Obama campaign,  and joined Sr. Carol Keehan in defying the bishops on passing the health care reform plan.  USF also gave an honorary degree to Notre Dame President, Fr. John Jenkins, whose invitation to Barack Obama for last year’s Notre Dame commencement address helped to set a precedent for other Catholic colleges wishing to defy their bishops.

Beyond California, Mark Shriver, a 2002 pro-abortion Democratic candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives from Maryland was the commencement speaker at the College of the Holy Cross.  The Cardinal Newman Society reports that while a 2002 candidate for the House, Shriver joined the rest of the Kennedy family in their pro-abortion advocacy  by stating in a Washington Post interview that, “I will continue to fight for a woman’s right to choose.”

And, although new Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is the lone Republican in a long list of pro-abortion Democratic commencement speakers on Catholic campuses this year, Brown’s pro-choice position most likely made him a palatable choice for commencement speaker at Boston College’s Law School.

It is ironic that the same month that Jack O’Connell, the pro-gay marriage politician was honored to give the commencement speech at St. Mary’s College, a professor of music there was being reprimanded and forced to take a diversity training course because he offended one of his students by asking those in his voice class to perform a rendition of “Old Man River.”  Beth Dobkin, the Provost at St. Mary’s,  has told the Contra Costa Times that the professor will undergo diversity training and had to apologize to his students for forcing them to perform such a racist song.  Dobkin also said that the professor’s “future at the school is being discussed.”  This, despite the fact that several other students in the class have written letters of support for the voice instructor claiming that the instructor had performed the song himself many times and wanted his students to have the opportunity to do so also.

But, in the upside down world of Catholic higher education, Catholic students and their families are not allowed to be offended when a pro-gay marriage proponent who has directly defied the authority of the bishop is honored.  Only certain groups—including gays, lesbians, transgendered individuals, and racial minorities—are allowed to be offended.  Catholics are never afforded such protected status.

Examining Northern Virginia's Catholic Congressional Candidates

5-31-10 Posted by Matt Smith in Gallery, Recent Articles 1 Comments

When Congressman Tom Davis (R, VA-11) announced he would not seek re-election in 2008, political forecasters quickly moved the district into a toss-up, lean Democrat district. Regardless of the 2008 national trends, the district would have likely remained a Republican seat due to Davis’ previous electoral success in a year when Virginia turned very purple.

The 2008 race for the 11th District, one of the most Catholic in Virginia, was between Democrat, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly and Republican, Northern Virginia businessman Keith Fimian. Connolly defeated Fimian by nearly forty-two thousand votes, and the district provided President Obama a fifty-five thousand vote victory, a dramatic shift from the previous two Presidential elections.

As a Catholic, who lives in the 11th District, there was one particular series of events in that year’s race that troubled me. On seven occasions the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee sent out attack pieces against Keith Fimian for his membership in a “radical group.” The radical group the mail pieces actually referenced was Legatus, the Catholic business leaders’ group. The mail pieces were inflammatory and extremely anti-Catholic toward a group of business leaders who follow their faith.

Two points to make on the bigoted mail pieces:

  1. The seven mail pieces were dropped over several weeks and went unanswered by the Fimian campaign. The lone exception is a September 10, 2008 Washington Post article discussing the mail pieces.
  2. Since they continued, it is clear at no point did Gerry Connolly, a Catholic originally from Boston who spent six years in a Seminary, call for them to stop.

Fimian’s 2008 comments to the Washington Post are hard to follow. “They’re engaged in the politics of personal assassination,” Fimian said. “Legatus is entirely a social organization. It . . . takes no position politically. The members are concerned with serving the poor and with social justice and family issues. To somehow imply that I’m in favor of these things because there are links from the Web site to other organizations that Legatus says it doesn’t endorse is essentially lying about my position.”

So what Northern Virginia Catholics had in 2008 was one candidate, awkward and timid in defense of his faith, and another condoning the anti-Catholic attacks.

The results have been to send one more Catholic to Congress to be a consistent vote against the Church. Gerry Connolly’s election has resulted in his votes for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House, Obama-care, co-sponsoring the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and supporting same-sex marriage in Washington, D.C. These are just some of the ways he voted against non-negotiable Catholic teachings while agreeing with Nancy Pelosi on 97 percent of his votes. Unlike Nancy Pelosi, who regularly makes up Catholic doctrine, Gerry Connolly studied it for many years. Maybe he didn’t pay close attention during his time in the seminary.

2010 is now a different year though. The national trend is tilting in a different direction than 2008. Americans are finally more attentive than ever before to Washington’s runaway spending habits and the overreach of the Obama administration into our lives. Faithful Catholics are also paying attention, as a result of the election of the most pro-abortion president ever, to those in Congress, such as Gerry Connolly, who are enabling the Obama agenda.

Keith Fimian was quick to announce he wanted a re-match against the incumbent Congressman. Then in January, Fairfax County Supervisor and life-long Northern Virginia resident Pat Herrity entered the Republican primary. Both men are Catholic.

Shortly after Pat Herrity’s announcement, surrogates for the Fimian campaign began, what I would call, a whisper campaign against Herrity’s positions on the issues of life and marriage. It even went so far that people in other states were telling me where Herrity supposedly stood on the issues and that Fimian was better. Curious to see what each candidate was saying and annoyed by the veracity of the surrogates – I visited both websites. On Herrity’s website it is very simply stated, “I believe that the family is a core institution to our society. As a father of two wonderful children, and as an adoptive parent, I believe we should support and encourage adoption. As a practicing Catholic, I am pro-life, and I support the Defense of Marriage Act.” On Fimian’s website, I found not a single mention of the same issues, a fact communicated back to the Fimian surrogates. (Note: since then Fimian has placed this information on his site)

As Virginians enter the final week of the primary season, our mailboxes are filled each day with a different direct mail piece. The Fimian campaign claims Herrity raised county taxes. The Herrity campaign points out Fimian’s failure to pay taxes as evidenced by an IRS Tax Lien. Herrity points to specific county budgets where he supported tax cuts. Fimian states the tax lien is a result of the work of a contractor which is a troubling answer from a certified public accountant. The only real benefactor to all this primary debate is Gerry Connolly who gets to save his money to use for the election in November and, regardless of this back and forth, one thing I have only seen on Herrity’s mail pieces is a pro-life declaration.

I know Keith Fimian and have spent time with him. Elections must be less about relationships and more about who can win the privilege to be sent to Washington to get the job done. Not to be content with the information on Pat Herrity’s website or mail pieces, I met with him, looked him in the eye, and asked him some very tough questions. I left the meeting not only confident of Herrity’s commitment to life and marriage but also having met with someone who knows what it takes to run and win a campaign in Virginia’s 11th Congressional District.

Make no mistake – the top 2010 election year issues are jobs, the economy, and reigning in Washington’s spending habits. As we elect a new Congress, we need representatives who are able to address those important issues and who do not run away from non-negotiable ones such as the sanctity of life and marriage.

Catholics helped put President Obama and Gerry Connolly into office. Catholic Members of Congress like Gerry Connolly are helping advance the Obama-Pelosi agenda. Faithful Catholics in Virginia’s 11th District should take the time to educate themselves about all the Catholics running for Congress this year.

Matt Smith is Vice President of Catholic Advocate

The Catholic Health Association and the Future of Catholic Unity

By: Stephen Phelan

Five years short of its centennial anniversary, the Catholic Health Association (CHA) appears to have achieved a level of influence in American politics unsurpassed by perhaps any other health industry association, religious or secular, in history.

Its role in helping to pass trillion-dollar health care reform legislation is widely recognized as having been crucial, to the elation of the Party in power, and to the dismay of the Catholic bishops and the American Church.

Achieving such influence can exact a price, however, both to CHA’s finances and its Catholic identity. Indeed, one can question whether the CHA, the largest association of hospitals and health care providers in the nation, actually wielded any influence over the legislation at all, or if it is simply basking in the evanescent glow of a grateful, and relieved, ruling political party.

But in politics, as they say, perception is reality, and CHA’s support for the bill was publicly hailed as a crucial moment in the passage of the bill over the objections of the bishops.

We now know the story: After months of public statements alternating between passionate endorsements of Obama’s “universal health care” legislation, sometimes qualified by calls for the bill to respect the right to life of all persons, CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan had a chance to show exactly where the CHA stood.

Negotiations had stalled in Congress as Democratic leaders’ flagrant bribing and arm-twisting of hesitant colleagues had failed to achieve clear majorities in favor of passage. The bill was held up by a small cadre of “pro-life Democrats” who, like the majority of the American people, claimed to find the bill’s expansion of federal funding for abortion unacceptable.

This small group threatened to bring down their own party’s largest domestic policy initiative in generations rather than consent to the largest expansion of abortion since Roe. In the end, however, all but a handful caved in to party pressure to support the bill, and the backbone of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), their erstwhile leader, simply crumbled into dust.

Although feverishly denied by its increasingly desperate proponents, every serious analysis of the Senate bill (the version that would eventually become law) found that it would in fact expand federal funding of abortion. Through an accounting loophole at the level of individual “care,” and through a seven billion dollar appropriation to community health centers, including Planned Parenthood, the law would circumvent Hyde amendment restrictions on federal funding for abortions.

That fact is what led the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to oppose the bill, even after the bishops had made it clear that many would have supported almost any version of the bill that didn’t expand abortion coverage.  The bishops have been publicly supportive of government-funded universal health care since 1996.

Yet the controversial law ended up earning Sr. Keehan’s and CHA’s 11th-hour endorsement which, along with those of a coalition of female religious and various “Catholic” leftist groups, were cited by the bill’s proponents as proof that it had Catholic support.

The assertion of support by the media, Congressional leaders, and the Obama administration went unchallenged by Sr. Keehan, and, as a result, the Church suffered immeasurable damage. Once again, the Church appeared divided even on the question of the value of the life of the most vulnerable Americans.  Indeed, Cardinals DiNardo, Murphy, and Wester, speaking for the USCCB, issued a statement on May 21 singling out the CHA for its responsibility for sowing “confusion” and opening a “wound to Catholic unity.”

This statement does not bode well for CHA’s future, but suggests the meaning of being Catholic in America will be readjusted by the bishops as a result of the controversy.

The bill of course passed, and Sr. Keehan, for her efforts and on behalf of the CHA, received a “signing pen” from President Obama, one that was used put into law a bill that was opposed by every bishop, and every Catholic organization faithful to the Church.

So the CHA’s historically unprecedented power affected neither the legislation itself, nor the highly questionable means of its passage—it merely made its being signed into law possible by giving cover to a small handful of wavering Catholic Democratic congressmen.

When presented a clear choice between the Church and the political party in power, the CHA chose the latter, eschewing the only chance it had to defend unborn human life in the law itself.  Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, claimed victory upon the bill’s passage, knowing full well the boon it promises for the nation’s largest provider of abortions.

When a Catholic organization blatantly opposes every Catholic bishop and finds itself sharing the joy of Planned Parenthood and the most radically pro-abortion president in the nation’s history, it may be time to reflect on that organization’s claim to identify itself as Catholic.

Sr. Keehan’s CHA sees its role as not only lobbying for the interests of its members, but as advocating a secular, statist view of health care policy in language that some Catholics might find reasonable. With the passage of “ObamaCare,” it has clearly succeeded at both. In defying the Catholic Church — and bizarrely claiming not to – Sr. Keehan made Obama and his Democratic Party her de facto moral authority.

It is difficult to understand why more Catholics don’t find this strange, even if they share CHA’s view on health care. If Sr. Keehan really has the influence in the corridors of power that she appears to have, why could she not secure meaningful protections for the unborn, the elderly, and the most seriously injured – those whose lives are already discounted or increasingly threatened in today’s secularized health care industry?

Wouldn’t a Catholic health care leader spend her hard-earned capital on making the health care law more “Catholic”, rather than simply promoting the President’s vision with Catholics?

This is where the thinking Catholic starts wondering what exactly is “Catholic” about the Catholic Health Care Association. Of course, the CHA does represent the nation’s Catholic hospitals in Washington. But, shouldn’t it also represent the Church?

One needn’t be a biblical scholar to recall numerous admonitions in Scripture against seeking the approval of worldly powers at the expense of fidelity to God. If this is too dramatic a comparison for some, then where is the defense of Sr. Keehan’s actions?

Let’s attempt one on her behalf, since she has yet to publish a serious, analytical response to the bishops’ and others’ many expositions of the bill’s problems.

It’s clear that Sr. Keehan shares the Church’s desire to have quality health care available to all at a reasonable expense. This shouldn’t be controversial, although it is worthwhile debating exactly what this means and whether a government-controlled system really is the best way to deliver on such a goal.

Sr. Keehan has also gone on the record repeatedly about her supposed agreement with the bishops on the need to defend the life of the unborn, to protect the conscience rights of health professionals, and to oppose the increasing threats to the elderly and those with seriously debilitating illnesses and injuries.

This is all well and good, but we don’t have to question the pro-life convictions and Catholic fidelity of Sr. Keehan and the CHA to question what happened to these convictions when they were most needed—when she faced a clear choice between the Church and the State, choosing the latter.

It is not enough to simply be offended by such a question and brush it off, as Sr. Keehan’s apologists have been doing since her baffling insubordination, as if the differences between Sr. Keehan and the bishops were merely of opinion. The bishops and other defenders of the Church’s position on Obamacare have published gigabytes of detailed analysis of the legislation and precise commentary on what the problems with the law are. Sr. Keehan has yet to demonstrate her acknowledged expertise with a serious defense of her actions: She has only replied with churched-up talking points that mirror those of Congress and the administration.

It should also not go without mention that the passage of health care legislation will be a boon to Catholic hospitals – the CHA’s membership – as currently uninsured patients will soon be paying bills, or having them paid, instead of skipping them. Look for an increase in dues and revenues to the CHA soon after this legislation takes full effect.

After the bill’s passage, Bishop Thomas Tobin wasted little time in putting an end to Rhode Island Catholic hospitals’ membership in CHA. Archbishop Chaput and a few other shepherds have also denounced the CHA’s betrayal of the Church in unequivocal terms.

Faithful Catholics are grateful for these rebukes to the CHA, but is this all that can be done? It is understandable that the bishops want to reach out pastorally to those who defy the Church, and surely this is happening to some degree behind the scenes.

But, it isn’t only the authority of the bishops that is at stake, although one would think that alone would be cause for severe sanctions against the CHA. The very possibility of unity on the clearest teachings of the Faith is at stake, not to mention the very definition of the word “Catholic.” Great violence has been done to the Church by the actions of the CHA, not to mention the violence that many expect will be increased against the most vulnerable Americans once this law takes full effect.

The Catholic bishops will be meeting in June, and we can be sure that the health care debacle and CHA’s role in it will be discussed. The May 21 USCCB statement descrying “the wound to Catholic unity” in the health care debate was merely the opening salvo in that debate. Without doubt, there are difficult hurdles to doing what needs to be done to this rogue organization – problems having to do with its independent status and the possibility of collateral damage.

But, this concern only strengthens the need for the bishops to do something as a whole. Bishop Tobin’s response was perfectly reasonable given the CHA’s intransigent belief that it has no need to justify its actions. Allowing the CHA to defy the bishops and pretend as if it remains in harmony with the Church is a continuing scandal and violence against the faithful, and to postpone action in order to preserve what remains of a disintegrating façade of unity is to deny the reality of what this event means to the Catholic Church in America.

God's Politics?

By: Anne Hendershott

Once he finished helping to elect President Obama by claiming that John McCain had done things that had  “made politics dishonorable,” Jim Wallis began work immediately to help push the Democratic agenda through his writings, his blog, and his willingness to team with anyone who would help destroy Republican opposition to the Obama plan for health care, immigration, and finance reform.

Most recently, Wallis appeared on the Chris Matthews Show  to talk about how those who oppose Barack Obama’s plans for the country just do not understand the need to support the common good.  Wallis told Matthews that Catholics should support the Obama agenda because of its concern for the common good.

The theme of “the common good” is woven throughout Wallis’ book, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.” And, although he often speaks of enlisting Catholics in his cause, it is clear that Wallis has little respect for the Catholic Church itself when he writes on the opening pages of his book that he is leading a movement that will “Take Back Our Faith” and then lists a number of those who have hijacked the faith: “from pedophile priests and cover up bishops who destroy lives and shame the Church.”

The choice to employ the theme of “the  common good”  is no coincidence.  The fake Catholic group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (funded by George Soros and a host of anti-Catholic, pro-choice proponents)  has partnered with Wallis several times in the past.  Most recently, in the health care debates, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good teamed with Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and the Catholic Campaign funded Pacific Institute for Community Organizations to provide Catholic congregations with a “Health Care Tool Kit.”  While the kit’s brochure never denied that the proposed health care reform would fund elective abortions with public money, it stated rather neutrally: “How Congress applies current policy on federal funding for abortion to new systems created through health reform will be an important issue for the faith community.”  It also reassured readers that conscience protections would remain in place—even though no such assurance was ever promised.

Now Wallis is championing finance reform.  On his blog (www.god’spolitics.com)  Wallis wrote that the finance reform passed in the Senate is a “historic accomplishment,” and he encouraged its passage.  Claiming the high moral ground, Wallis blogs that in the process of passing finance reform “there were principles that — from a moral and even religious viewpoint — guided our analysis of this legislation. Each of these moral principles is incorporated into the new bill.”  It certainly seems like Barack Obama is now consulting with Wallis.

Disparaging those who disagree with him, most recently he has taken on Fox News commentator and host, Glenn Beck.  Wallis is especially critical of Beck’s definition of “social justice” because it does not agree with his own and published a posting on his blog entitled: “Why Glenn Beck is a Danger to True Evangelical Theology.”

Wallis is powerful—but probably not nearly as powerful as he thinks he is.  In an article he posted on The Huffington Post entitled “Wall Street Repent!” he likens himself to Jesus when he recalls that in his conversations with financial leaders about ethics, some of the more recalcitrant have come to him “like Nicodemus, a religious leader who came to talk to Jesus in private—at night.”  This is hard to believe.

Now, Wallis has joined Nancy Pelosi in lecturing to religious leaders to admonish their parishioners–those “sitting in the pews” that they need to support the democratic agenda on key issues.  Using the same talking points—and same phrases (“sitting in the pews”) Wallis has demanded on his blog that religious leaders provide “some sermons on the repentance of Wall Street, some pastoral care for the financial giants who sit in our pews, and some prayer vigils outside the nation’s biggest banks.”

Whatever happened to the separation of Church and State?  In the last election the Democrats were apoplectic when some of the Bishops even suggested that parishioners should look at life issues when they were voting.  And, now Wallis is suggesting that parishioners should be holding prayer vigils outside banks and demanding financial reform?

It is difficult to know what Jesus would do about all of this – but it is hard to imagine that Jesus would be joining Wallis in supporting the pro-abortion policies this President continues to expand.  Besides, it seems that Wallis is beginning to think he is Jesus himself…Maybe there really is a reason to keep politics out of our Churches.

Bishops Conference Resigns from Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

On May 17, 2010, Catholic Advocate President Deal Hudson broke the news that the USCCB Belongs to Group Supporting Pro-Abortion Supreme Court Nominee.

This followed on work Catholic Advocate unvieled in February when we highlighted some of the activities of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) and asked “Why Did the USCCB Join This Civil Rights Organization?”

Late on May 19, 2010, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced they had withdrawn their membership from The Leadership Conference.

In response, Catholic Advocate President Deal Hudson commented:

“It’s a sad fact of politics that organizations originally founded for one purpose undergo changes over time that affect their mission. With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops removing itself from the Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights, the bishops have recognized, as Bishop William Murphy put it, ‘The LCCR has moved beyond advocacy of traditional civil rights to advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops’ Conference.’  No one will doubt the ongoing commitment of the Catholic bishops to upholding civil and human rights, but this action was necessary to avoid any confusion about its protection of the most basic human right, the right to life  of the not-yet-born.”

The announcement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is below:

Bishops Withdraw From Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Coalition; Renew Opposition to Discrimination

WASHINGTON-The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has pulled out of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition group founded in 1950.

At the same time the USCCB reiterated its commitment to oppose discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, and said that these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity.

The bishops withdrew from LCCR after the coalition took one more position in opposition to USCCB policy, this time taking a stand on a Supreme Court nominee. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, NY, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Peace, announced the withdrawal May 19. His statement follows:

In light of recent events, it has become increasingly clear that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ continued membership in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is not possible because of the LCCR’s expanded and broadened agenda. The interests of the Leadership Conference and those of the USCCB have diverged as the LCCR has moved beyond advocacy of traditional civil rights to advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops’ Conference. In recent years, the Leadership Conference has joined others in advocating or opposing nominees for the Supreme Court, a practice which clearly contradicts USCCB policy and compromises the principled positions of the bishops. The latest example of this is the LCCR support of the Solicitor General’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

The USCCB deeply regrets this action has become necessary and pledges to continue our ongoing work on civil rights, racial and ethnic justice, and the protection of human life and dignity. While we cannot continue as a member of this coalition, we will work with those, including members of the Leadership Conference, on particular issues that advance the bishops’ commitment to oppose all forms of racism, unjust discrimination and bigotry.

As the bishops said in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship:

It is important for our society to continue to combat discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, as these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity. Where the effects of past discrimination persist, society has the obligation to take positive steps to overcome the legacy of injustice, including vigorous action to remove barriers to education and equal employment for women and minorities. (86)